Prominent Egyptian activist to be released
Egypt’s most prominent activist, who is facing a retrial on a 15-year prison sentence for violating a draconian protest law, was granted release on bail Monday, lawyers and relatives said.
His release came after dozens of activists began a hunger strike last month to protest against the curbs on public demonstrations and the detention of activists, including some of the leading figures in the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.
The lawyer representing blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a vocal government critic for more than a decade who has been repeatedly jailed, said he was released on 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($714) bail along with two other activists. Attorney Mohammed Abdel-Aziz said the three should leave prison on Tuesday once their paperwork is completed. He added that the judge presiding over the retrial has stepped down at the request of defense lawyers. ‘The judge said in his reasons for stepping down that it was prompted by a show of disrespect to the court,’ Abdel-Aziz said. The retrial will begin once a new judge is assigned to the case.
Last week, during the latest court session, Egyptian prosecutors presented a personal home video of Abdel-Fattah’s wife dancing as evidence against him, prompting an outcry from his lawyers that the material was irrelevant and defamatory.
The judge allowed the video to be shown at the time, but on Monday he ordered the country’s top prosecutor to investigate the use of the video, according to a judicial official.